Pilar Cuban Eatery
393 Classon Avenue
(Near Greene Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Named after Ernest Hemingway's boat, which coincidently he purchased in Brooklyn, Pilar Cuban Eatery was inspired by the icon of both the people of Miami and Cuba. Serving the neighborhood of Fort Greene/Bedfort-Stuyvesant Miami-style Cuban food, Pilar Cuban Eatery prepares all its dishes according to tradition, but with a modern approach.
Originally suppose to be a soup shop, the stews and soups at Pilar Cuban Eatery should not be overlooked. Chunky white beans, smoked ham, chorizo, collard greens, and potatoes make up the caldo gallego stew ($5). The tamal en cazuela ($5.50) has a creamy corn base mixed with strips of roast pork.
Empanadas are stuffed with savory fillings and baked in dough. Creamed spinach, mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, with a hint of nutmeg ($4.50) and smoked and braised beef short ribs baked in a yuca and corn combination dough, served with a guava barbeque sauce ($5.95), fight for the empanada spotlight.
The Pilar grilled cheese ($6.50) is nothing like you see in those Kraft commercials. Multi-grain bread is spread with an espresso-mustard, and stuffed with fried plantains and cheddar and Gruyere cheeses. The star of the sandwich menu is the pressed Cuban sandwich ($7.25). Roast pork is marinated in tangy mojo (sour oranges, garlic, and traditional spices, including cumin) and accompanied by ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. The whole thing is pressed until flat and the cheese is gooey and has melted all over the warmed meat.
Two twice-fried plantains ($12), one topped with ropa vieja (shredded cumin-dusted skirt steak with onions, peppers, and tomatoes) and the other with camaron enchilada (shrimp, onions, peppers, and tomatoes sautéed in garlic and olive oil) is the eatery's best dish. Rotisserie chicken marinated in their mojo sauce, sided with black beans and rice, and the garbanzo prito ($10) - sautéed chickpeas, sofrito, and house-smoked chorizo - are worthy runner-ups.
Be prepared to spend your meal with Ernest Hemingway and plantains; because, at Pilar Cuban Eatery, there is not escaping them.